Since September, I’ve been juggling a full time job with my blog. I spend a full day each weekend working on my blog, as well as most evenings during the week, but each hour is definitely productive. This is all thanks to my pretty intense organisation and help from a number of other bloggers. Within this post, I’m going to share how I manage my time, as well as share a few posts that I’ve really enjoyed from other bloggers about how they organise their blogging life.
I use Unum to plan out my instagram feed just before I go to bed (when necessary), and I use Buffer to schedule tweets just before bed, and just as I wake up. I always write my posts at least two weeks, if not further, in advance and the schedule button is my best friend. That way if I want a couple of days break then I can have it. But these are fairly well known concepts in order to stay organised, so how do I keep the rest of my blogging life organised?
I always keep a scrap of paper in my pocket at work – not as glamorous as a fancy notebook but whilst I’m at work it’s not something I can keep out. If I had an office job then I’d definitely keep something more substantial, but it’s just not possible in my job. At the end of the day, I put this scrap of paper into purse and transfer the notes to a variety of places, dependant on what’s appropriate. If it’s a post idea, I transfer it to the spreadsheet I use to get myself organised. If it’s an instagram post idea, I keep a sheet of paper on top of my photography set up to write it on there. And if it’s something else blog related, I move it over to my to do list. It’s a simple method which may look messy, but it keeps me organised.
Use You Commute & Work Breaks Effectively
It’s definitely important to use time away from your blogging space effectively to stay on top of things. I’ll put my hands up: I don’t use my commute as effectively as other people do, but I find that I don’t really need to. I post to instagram, and leave a few comments on my 10 minute walk to the bus stop and do the same on the way home but I spend the rest of my work journey with my nose stuck in a book. Honestly, I don’t feel too bad about this though, as I spend an awful lot of time at home doing blog related jobs. I also have a series of posts about my recently read books going on at the moment so it’s basically blogging.
As I said above, I don’t have a desk job so I can’t keep a notebook by my side to jot in any ideas I can think of through the day. However, I do have access to a computer during my breaks. I try to use my lunch hour to reply to important emails (sending links to PRs, emailing about potential content etc), or to draft posts if I have one that I feel needs writing at that time. All of my emails come into my phone so I mentally mark which ones I want to reply to and crack on with that at lunch. I could reply from my phone, which I do if the reply is urgent, but I prefer being able to format my emails a little better on my computer.
The main reason that my blog organisation methods work is thanks to the beauty above. The spreadsheet I use is an adapted version of Hayley’s Blog Domination Tracker. I love the layout of this, and I’m pretty lazy so it was easier to adapt this to suit my needs rather than completely make my own. Columns I added are the Photography column and the PR Sample column, but kept the majority of the rest the same. I like the status of my photos to be tracked, so have a drop down menu stating whether I need to take the photos, edit the photos or if the photography is completed. I also added a the column to track whether or not the post contains press samples so that I know to add a disclaimer to the bottom of the post.
I’ve removed a number of the tabs that I don’t require, but have added some of my own too. For example, I don’t use the stats tracker that she created but I have added my own to follow the statistics that are important to me. I don’t use the checklist (although I probably should), but I have created a sheet to track press samples. But if you’re lazy like me, or don’t know what you’re after in a tracker, then definitely download Hayley’s freebie to make your life a lot simpler! The photo above was how my spreadsheet looked as I wrote this post at the start of the month (I just removed the upcoming posts to keep them as a surprise, and I’ve since scrapped one of the posts in favourite of another one).
This is never a solid plan, as posts can get bumped up or down depending on products I purchase or get sent, but at least this way I have a rough idea on what’s coming up. It’s also been a great way to keep my future blog posts planned as I can write a vague title and a brief description about upcoming posts that may not be relevant now. For example, I bought a ton of makeup in the Boxing Day sales which I have enough of to review for a couple of months. These products are scattered through the next couple of months as post ideas that whilst I’m trying them out, I can keep notes on what I like and dislike about them. These are also the sort of posts you can write in advance and keep as a draft for if you’re not sure what to post that day.
If you’re not into spreadsheets, I know that there is an editorial calendar plugin for wordpress and a lot of people use google calendar to keep on top of blog work but these calendars just don’t work for me. I think the key to great organisation is to try a lot of methods over a period of time and stick to what you find works.
Sometimes computers don’t help at all for staying on top of things, and I totally get that. At work I have to write everything down or I forget it, and this could be you in your blog life. I’ve raved about That Lame Company for a long time now (I have plenty of posts featuring their products) and they have some wonderful stationery that will definitely keep a blogger organised. Their Blogger Mail Pad is a firm favourite of mine, which I picked up in the Boxing Day sale, and they have a ton of to do lists and weekly calendars to keep you in check! I just want to buy all of their products to be honest.
In terms of photography, I always take photos in bulk. One day a week, if I’m available to do so, I collect all the products I need to photograph and spend as much time as is required on photographing it all at once. I then spend anywhere between 30 minutes and 3 hours after work each night going through and editing the photos that I’ve taken. It’s being productive after work, without it feeling like I’m doing too much!
I can follow my spreadsheet about what I need to take photos of, as well as looking at my instagram notes page (I suppose I could file this as a spreadsheet page…maybe next month). Occasionally on the off chance that I feel like taking photos after work, my soft boxes work a treat. They were £30 for two on eBay, and it means I don’t have to rely on the unpredictable British weather to take photos!
Once I get into the swing of writing a post, I never want to stop. I try to put aside one day each weekend, if I’m not busy, to write a fair few posts. As I said earlier, I like to be a couple of weeks ahead and batch writing means that I can do that. If I’m completely honest, I’m writing this post almost a month in advance but that’s because I had a quiet January and didn’t do a lot. I also know that February will have been a busy month for me so I’m getting as much written as I can whilst I have a break.
I know that batch writing doesn’t work for everybody, but if you’re someone who sticks to a schedule then it’s definitely a good habit to get into. A friend of mine, Corinne, writes as much as she can on her days off so she isn’t under pressure to write too much and can just relax after a day at work. But if writing the day before you post works for you then that’s great! I’ll admit, batch writing can feel like a bit of a chore but it’s worth it to stay ahead of the game.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still things I need to work on when it comes to organisation, and emails are one of those things. I am rubbish at sorting my emails out, and once I fortnight I end up having to spend a good couple of hours sorting out the ones I ignored on my phone. This year I definitely need to make more of a conscious effort to spend 15 minutes a day sorting them, because then at least I know that they’re done!
I’m also trying to come up with a better method of organisation for my inbox. For the past 18 months I’ve had a number of folders but they’re just not working for me anymore. This month I have been slowly moving all of my PR contacts to the organisation spreadsheet so that I can delete old emails and just have important ones in my inbox, but I’m always scared to delete things in case there is something important in there. I’ll be braver soon, I promise!
I’d actually love to hear how you organise your inbox because I think I need a new method. Give me a tweet or a comment because I need ideas.
I’m sure my blog life would be a lot more complicated if I had a lot more blogger mail, more events to attend and sponsored posts to keep track of. But I’m only a tiny blogger who doesn’t have too much of that to worry about so this is working for me at the moment, and I’m hoping as I grow this organisation system will grow with me.
If you’re looking for more tips on how to stay organised when it comes to your blog, some of my favourite posts on the topic have been Laura’s post on Juggling A Blog & Full Time Work, Kat’s post on Blog Management, Corinne’s post all about How To Blog Every Day, Melyssa’s Planning Post, Saira’s post on Working Full Time & Blogging, and basically all of Hayley’s posts about blogging (they all motivate me and make me want to reorganise everything). Pinterest is always full of tips which I definitely love to pin for future reference: check out my blog and social media board for more inspiration when it comes to blog organisation.